concrete canoes
December 4, 2002 9:18 AM   Subscribe

SinkSkim like a concrete canoe. Building a concrete canoe (or its cousin, the cardboard canoe) takes creativity and know-how. The first was made in 1848, they're now computer-designed, light-weight marvels that move through the water as well as any fiberglass or wooden craft. Concrete canoe building is a competitive sport in many university civil engineering departments (Clemson won this year's competition.) Design your own, and enjoy paddling around in a nearby stream, lake or river.
posted by me3dia (12 comments total)
interesting - people in concrete canoes remind me of this guy who crossed the atlantic in a Klepper folding canoe, one of my ultimate objects of desire.
posted by gravelshoes at 9:37 AM on December 4, 2002

i always thought if i could just design a working rammed earth canoe, i could put the concrete canoe people out of business.
posted by steef at 9:42 AM on December 4, 2002

my father was a civil engineering professor at CSUS and each year worked as an advisor with the students on the concrete canoe team. As children, my sister and I would usually go to the comps every spring.

the design has really become refined over the years: at the first race i can remember attending the canoe was clunky and had large chunks of styrofoam at each end, aiding in keeping it afloat. it leaked a little too (we got to take it out at one point after the races, which was really pretty neat). the canoes now look really slick -- even better than a canoe you might by in the store. the molding and shaping processes, as i understand it, have come a long way.

if i'm not wrong, there's often other events involved in the comp (at least among the state schools in CA) -- we went to one match at Chico that involved egg-launching and model bridge-building (they break 'em -- well, if they're too weak -- which is great fun to watch) as well as the canoe races.

thanks for the links, me3dia.
posted by fishfucker at 9:49 AM on December 4, 2002

I like the transparent canoe. A simple concept, but should be a lot of fun.

Concrete is used surprisingly much in boatbuilding, especially by DIY types since it's cheap. These ferroboats have a bad reputation since many of them are ugly and not that good boats. But it is possible to make a good concrete boat.
posted by lazy-ville at 9:51 AM on December 4, 2002

The ASME competition has been formal since 1971, but informal races were held starting in the early '60s. I tried to find images of older canoes (like your dad's, fishfucker) but if there are any online they're buried under the overwhelming number of sites devoted to college teams from the last five or six years. Anyone know of pix from the old days?
posted by me3dia at 9:55 AM on December 4, 2002

People have also tried to build whole ships out of concrete, this link is pretty interesting. Churchill pushed a program during WWII to build invincible ships out of ice.
posted by pjgulliver at 9:58 AM on December 4, 2002

too cold for concrete canoes in december, time for concrete toboggans!
posted by krunk at 10:04 AM on December 4, 2002

I assisted the UVA concrete Canoe team in 1997. I was in the Engineering school and they needed people to row. I helped pull the canoe out of the mold, and I rowed in the regional competition, which we won. I didn't go to nationals, because I had since been kicked out of the engineering school for poor grades (stupid nerds kicking me out, I'll kick them out!!!) Anyways I still have my concrete canoe shirt and I wear it and my friends still make fun of me for it. Ahh, memories.
posted by Mushkelley at 10:48 AM on December 4, 2002

I read that as ... Anyways I still have my concrete shirt... and I thought, "Wow, now that is hardcore.
posted by Fabulon7 at 11:36 AM on December 4, 2002

A concrete shirt would undoubtedly chaffe the nips, thereby only being worn at times of maximum hilarious impact ie, Halloween, first dates, baptisms, and job interviews.
posted by Mushkelley at 11:40 AM on December 4, 2002

They do this every year also at the local technical college that I went to / teach at. It is alot of fun to watch. Totally hilarious the "Concept" boat ideas that the students come up with. I never miss it!
posted by SweetIceT at 1:25 PM on December 4, 2002

As a civil engineer undergrad and a structural engineering grad student at Tufts i've occasionally worked with the the concrete canoe team. At this point the competition has become so refined that i don't think they should really call it concrete anymore (it's mostly plastic aggregates and fiberglass reinforcing sheets, all of which that float and is not a realistic mix for anything other then canoes).

However, i'd say the more interesting competition is the National Steel Bridge Competition (also from the ASCE). There's nothing as cool as building your own bridge (ok, self serving link, that's my baby), constructing it at competition (in about 2 minutes) and then loading it with 2500 lbs (equivalent to a car). Though, of course, i'm a big dork and proud of my welding scar.
posted by NGnerd at 3:41 PM on December 4, 2002

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